Part 2 Degenerative Disc Disease : Best Exercises To Help Your Lower Back Pain – Spondylosis

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises: X-rays showing DDD: Downtown Toronto Chiropractic

Have you  been told that you have degenerative disc disease and are looking for relief?


Did you want surgery for your lower back or would you prefer degenerative disc disease exercises?


Chances are that you don’t want surgery. Degenerative disc disease exercises can help many people who have this condition like you.


What is Degnerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is essentially the thinning of the discs that are found between your vertebrae. At the tender age of 7 years of age the blood vessels that feed your disc start to disappear. By the age of 20 the blood vessels have completely disappeared.


When the blood vessels self-destruct the nutrients are carried to the center of the disc by absorption (diffusion). Oxygen and blood sugars gets absorbed by the disc but this is not an efficient way to get nutrients to the cells inside the disc. The cells become starved of nutrients making the cells inside the disc die. The cells inside the disc are responsible for the pressure inside the disc. The more cells that die the more pressure decreases in the disc.


See Also: Degnerative Disc Disease: Remedies For Lower Back Osteoarthritis That Provide Relief


Essentially your disc starts the process of degenerating around 7 years of age but you can’t see any changes in your X-rays until you are in your 4th decade.

Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises: X-rays showing DDD: Downtown Toronto Chiropractic


Can you see that one of the discs between the vertebra has a large space while the one above is smaller. This is degnerative disc disease. For the eagle eyed you will see that end result of degenerative disc disease is fusion of vertebrae shown between the bottom two red lines. That’s not one vertebra but two vertebrae.


You can’t stop the process of degeneration but you can do something about the pain related to degeneration. That’s why degenerative disc exercises are so important.


Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises


Degenerative disc disease exercises involve Stretching, Strengthening & Stability and Aerobic exercises.


Stretching is needed to increase the flexibility and mobility of the spinal muscles and to help relieve the accompanying muscle related pain


Strengthening and Stability: Degenerative disc disease exercises makes the muscle of the spine stronger taking the pressure off the joints and the disc.


Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise #1

Low back Support Back belt -post back belt exercises

  • Get into a crawling position with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Put a curve in your lower back.
  • Brace your core by contracting your abs and lower back.
  • Lift up your arm first. If this is easy, then lift your leg only. If that is easy, then lift the opposite legs and arms, for example, right leg, left arm.
  • Want to make it tougher? Try lifting an arm and leg on the same side.
  • 3 sets of 10. If you are shaking a little or cannot balance quite right, you’re doing the right exercise for you, i.e. lifting just the leg or arm might be easy, but lifting opposite arms and legs might put you off-balance a bit. Make sure you are stable before going to the advanced bird dog.


Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise #2

How to Improve Posture-Chair Squats: Toronto Chiropractic Clinic

  • Stand in front of a chair as if you are going to sit on it.
  • Stand with your feet facing slightly more outward than your knee.
  • Make sure your butt comes out, and keep lowering you butt until you touch the chair.
  • Practice 3 sets of 10.
  • When you are stronger, take the chair away and go down until your knees are bent 90 degrees.


Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise #3

Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises Side Plank: Downtown Toronto Chriopractic


  • Get on your side with your elbows underneath your shoulders.
  • Your feet stacked on each other.
  • To make it harder you can raise up your arm like the picture above.
  • Bring your pelvis down to the floor then bring it up again 10 times.
  • Don’t rest when you touch the floor.
  • Try to do three sets each day.


Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise #4

Back Support, Post Back Support Exercise

  • Lie Face Down.
  • Toes together and your arms shoulder-width apart.
  • Get up on your toes and elbows like in the picture above.
  • Your legs and body should form a straight line. Don’t let your butt sag down or come up too high.
  •  Hold for 30 seconds to start. Hold for up to 1 minute. Do it 3 Times.

Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise #5

Degenerative Disc Disease Exercise Supine Plank: Downtown Toronto Chriopractic

  • Lie down face up with your hands down and knees bent.
  • Tighten your abs and lower back muscles.
  • Lift up till you form a straight line like in the picture above. Don’t go too high or too low.
  • Come back down and when you touch the floor come back up right away (no rest- your back needs endurance).
  • Try 3 sets of 10.


Aerobic Exercises

Try doing swimming if you are a swimmer. The best stroke is the breaststroke for most people. Try going 2-5 times a week for 20 minutes.


One of the degenerative disc disease exercises that are great for you is walking. Walking puts less pressure on your disc and moves your spine. If you are in acute pain this isn’t for you but if you are simply sore a brisk walk can really help. Try walking 20 minutes briskly everyday. (slow down or stop if the pain keeps increasing or gets sharp)


Cycling should be done with more caution. Start with a stationary bike first if you have access to one. This way there is no bumping up and down.


More importantly, you should keep the arch in your lower back while cycling. By keeping the lower back arched you protect the disc and prevent aggravating yourself.


Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment


Part 1 (link below) went over the surgical options, which do get results but have some side effects you definitely want to think about. They are Disc Fusion and Total Disc Replacement with a synthetic disc.


See Also: Degenerative Disc Disease: Remedies For Lower Back Osteoarthritis That Provide Relief


At this downtown Toronto chiropractic clinic I use a combination of manual therapy, posture and pain treatments.



  • Manual therapy includes mobilization and manipulation to improve the motion in the stiff joints and muscles. Mobilization is when your chiropractor moves your spine through its regular range of motion. Often it’s done while you are lying down, face-down or while you are lying down on your side.


  • Manipulation involves moving your spinal joints until you can hear a pop. Just like cracking a knuckle. This movement is still within the normal movements of the joint but just a little further than mobilization. It’s safe and effective at helping break adhesions, increase range of movement, and more importantly help with pain for many problems..


  • Myofascial Release Technique or Active Release Technique. When a muscle that is involved in your pain is found, your chiropractor will release the muscle so it is relieved of the tension and becomes looser making the pain associated with your muscle disappears. Your chiropractor will press on a trigger point and help move your joint through a full range of motion. After you learn how to do the movement, your chiropractor will simply push on the trigger point while you do the same movement. The process is repeated 3-5 times. Then you move onto another set of points in the same muscle.


See Also: Active Release Technique Is It For You


  • Postural Correction: When your posture is not good there is more pressure on the joints in your spine. Slouching or poking your chin out is a sign that certain muscle groups are too tight and others are too weak. The idea is to stretch the muscles that are too tight and strengthen the muscles that are too weak. I have dozens of people that come to the clinic that lack the strength but more importantly endurance to keep their bodies in place for the sitting job that they do.


  • Pain Treatments: Acupuncture, Laser and Shockwave therapy is used to decrease pain in and around your spinal joints and muscles



Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. I will answer all questions in the comments section here at this downtown Toronto Chiropractic clinic.




Dr Ken Nakamura

47 Responses to Part 2 Degenerative Disc Disease : Best Exercises To Help Your Lower Back Pain – Spondylosis
  • Vickie says:
    November 12, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Hi Dr.Ken,
    I hope you can offer some words of advice. I am a 29 year old female for the last year or so I have been experiencing some back pain and just kept going to my chiro, after seeing my pcp she recommended Physical therapy which I did for about 3 months. I have made some gains from all of this but something continued to not feel right. Finally my doctor sent me to get an MRI which shows two herniated discs at L4 and L5. The first is hitting a nerve and L5 is showing a slight tear. I’m really concerned and don’t know how to proceed I will be seeing a spinal specialist but do you have any words of advice? I’m a physically active person and love doing marathons, practice yoga and hiking. My husband and I want to start a family but now I’m left feeling overwhelmed and concerned if I will need surgery. Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.

  • Heather Hamilton says:
    May 21, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    It’s been 7 weeks now that I had hurt my back and I’m in a lot of pain when walking or standing. I have been on a lt of medication and nothing seems to help control the pain at all. I have degenerative disc disease, L4 L5 as well as facet joint syndrome. I have tried chiropractor treatment, electroids on my back, traction, acupuncture and massage. Nothing is helping at all. I have seen the chiropractor almost every day for 4weeks. I am seeing a homeopath/Bowden therapy in two days to try something different. Dr now wants to send me to get a cortisone injection. How long does it take for pain to go away? Is the pain from inflammation or nerves? I’m getting very frustrated. I’ve been off work for 6 weeks now. Does walking around cause more irration and inflammation? I don’t want to cause any more disturbance to my back. Looking fwd to hearing back from you. Thank you in advance! Heather

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 22, 2017 at 2:57 am

      Thanks for your question Heather. Why don’t you try doing knee to chest exercises while lying down on your back? You do this repeatedly holding for 1-2 seconds repeating 10 times. You should be done in about 30 seconds. If you have pain while standing or walking and little or no pain while lying down in some positions there is no inflammation. Also, after 7 weeks inflammation would have disappeared. If you do the right exercises in can be a couple of weeks more. Of course, there are no guarantees though. If you do the wrong exercises you might stay that way a long time but spontaneously get better. Most people don’t get better as they continue to do the things that makes them worse.

      Hope that helps your degenerative disc disease. If you have any more questions for this Toronto downtown chiropractor I will do my best to give you a good answer. The above is an opinion and not a recommendation. Remember any exercise make you worse so I advise you to do this with the supervision of someone familiar with the exercises.

  • Ikvinder Singh Mangat says:
    December 10, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Degenerated l5 s1 disc shows large broad based left paracentral and left posterolateral and further more is written on my mri scan ! I have been facing minor pains from a few months but a few weeks back I went to the gym and I had a back excercise and suddenly I felt severe pain and I was not able to weigh on left leg and everytime my lefts part hurts now I am on bed rest since then and taking tablets ! Doing small excercises according to my doc

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      December 14, 2016 at 10:10 am

      Thanks for your comment Ikvinder. While long-term bed rest seems to help all of the research doesn’t say it will help. You should try the exercises here in this article. This is an opinion and not a recommendation. Please keep in mind you can get worse and need to be guided a professional as these exercises are not customized to your particular case.

      Hope that helps your degenerative disc disease.

  • Ann Omasdang says:
    September 16, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks for this Dr. Nakamura.
    I have one question. As my age 28, I suffering this pain within 4 months. I already made MRI and x-ray. In my MRI I have problem on my disc, it seems Died cells or no more blood. My question is, if I will do this exercises, until when? I will suffer the pain at the first time?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      September 17, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Thanks for your question. You need to tell me your symptoms. Without details, I cannot give you my opinion.

      Hope you understand it takes a lot more details about your degenerative disc disease to give you an opinion.

  • Sabrina says:
    May 27, 2016 at 12:59 am

    I have copied my MRI from April 4 2016 (I had an MRI back in 2007 due to back pain, I had to quit my desk job, I did physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage, vitamins and Chinese herbs and eventually it got better)
    A little background on myself, I’m a female, 36 years old, 5″2, 110 lbs, I’m healthy and active, I’m a stay at home mom to two young children. I’m now suffering much more then back in 2007, I have low back pain, butt pain, left leg nerve pain in my calf (it’s so intense that I can’t sit for more then 2 mins which means I can’t drive), numbness, tingling in my left leg and foot, I can walk for about 15-20 mins but l can’t stand still nor can I sit, laying down does provide relief most of the time, luckily I can sleep pretty well but I’m sleeping on the floor on a firm single air mattress. I’m currently doing acupuncture, massage, vitamins, prescription meds and Chinese herbs, I was doing Physio but at the time I felt the exercises were hurting too much. I’ve been on your website and find it very informative. I really really really want to avoid surgery and I’m hoping to use whatever conservative treatments are needed to help me to get better, in your opinion can I recover from this without surgery? I’m willing to give it time even though it’s killing me to be missing out so much on my family life, I’m very active with my family and we are always doing stuff together so I’m having a really hard time coping with this, I’m also suffering from anxiety and panic attacks which obviously doesn’t help my healing process.
    I have seen a neurosurgeon and he says I probably need surgery, he says my disc herniation at L5 -S1 is pretty bad and says that I’m not part of the 90% of people who don’t need surgery, he says I’m in the 10% and that there’s only a 50% chance I can get better with conservative treatment. Again I really don’t want surgery but I need this pain to get better, I know it won’t go away quickly but I need some relief. I’m starting to feel depressed and I really don’t know what to do or think anymore. Any advice or help would be so greatly appreciated.
    BTW I live in the GTA
    Thank you advance

    Comparison: September 2007

    At L4 – L5 there is moderate annual bulge, slightly eccentric to the left. There is a superimposed central annular tear. There is moderate narrowing of the neuroforamen inferiorly and mild narrowing of the lateral recesses. Mild bilateral facet arthropathy.
    At L5 – S1, there is a broad-based, moderate severity disc and she region with a superimposed left paracentral disc protrusion. The paracentral disc protrusion has increased. There is severe left and mild right lateral recess narrowing. There is impingement of the left S1 nerve root in the spinal canal.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 28, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Thanks for your question Sabrina. Often times lying face down or prone helps. If you can do that possibly getting in the sphinx position.

      The pictures are in the article above. However you will need someone that can customize your exercises to go further as each disc goes out differently and even a disc that appears on MRI to go out the exact same way will respond sometimes in opposite ways. In other words it’s not always predictable thus the need to customize the exercises according to you react to the different exercises.

      Hope that helps your disc protrusion at L5-S1.

  • Paul says:
    May 9, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    I would like to record my success with an exercise very similar to #2 above but gives a bit more control. I was diagnosed with this condition about 9 months ago but have had the associated pain for a number of years. This exercise has really helped and it is very simple. To get started do this in the shower: allow warm water to run on your lower back as you bend over a little. You are bent at the waist and knees. Put your palms on your knees to support your back (this gives you confidence and control as if like me this leaning forward movement is painful in the morning). Slowly at first raise your head and shoulders so your palms move up your thighs and breathe in. Then move back to your knees and breathe out. If this is not a problem raise your shoulders and lift your hands away as you become vertical. It is important that you feel tension in the vertical muscles either side of your spine. These are the muscles that will support your spine and strengthening them provides the pain relief. Imagine as you rise that you are lifting from the upper part of your back and feel that the muscles around your spine are engaged. Of course, if you feel any discomfort return to the first palms on knees exercise. As you gain confidence you can move on to holding your arms in front as you bend at the waist (like exercise #2) but it is important that you feel only a little challenge from your back muscles as you go forward.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 10, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      Thanks for your comment Paul. It’s terrific that you found an exercise that helps you. I am very happy for you. For most people though the exercise you describe will aggravate their back but for a certain small portion of the population with an anterior disc or stenosis your exercise will help.

      Thanks for your comments on degenerative disc disease.

  • gnr354 says:
    May 1, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    sir,i have few questions.i was diagnosed with a lumbar condition (spondylolysis if am correct).doc said theres a small fracture between l5 and s1.i also feel i have hyperlordosis as there is massive amount of space between my back when standing against a can doing the “bridge exercise” be bad for me,and can i do your hyperlordosis exercise regime without any worries ?? wud be helpful if u cud answer this…..

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 2, 2016 at 8:40 am

      Thanks for your question gnr354. First there is spondylolysis with no pain and other people with lots of pain. X-rays aren’t really good to determine who has pain. The general rule is though that you shouldn’t extend your spine which the bridging exercise will cause if you have sponylolysis. Also for hyperlordosis it’s not helpful. So you shouldn’t do bridge exercises for two reason.

      Hope that helps your spondylolysis (fracture). This is different from spondylosis (degeneration)

  • Shannan says:
    April 16, 2015 at 10:35 am

    I have a bulging disk in my low back putting pressure on the nerve that goes down the side of my leg near my IT band, as well as straight down my leg starting near the center of my butt. Do you have and videos to show the exercises you and describing, or are there any other exercises that can be performed specifically for my type of disk bulge? Thank you sir.

  • Alpa Gandhi says:
    April 16, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Hello Dr Ken,
    I have had on and off low back problems for the past 10 years. However, since last June the pain has not gone away. I had an MRI done in December and the results are grade 1-2 spondylolisthesis at L5-S1 secondary to bilateral L5 spondylolysis. Severe bilateral forminal stenosis. I have been seeing a physiotherapist for the last 8 months and have tried traction, acupunture, exercises, yoga etc… I have also been wearing a back belt on and off. not much releif. My pain has changed and increased over the last 8 months. Right now I have low back pain and pinching if I walk or sit for long periods. I am currently taking Gaopentin for a month. Don’ t know what else to do. Hope you can help! Thanks

  • Julie says:
    April 15, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    Dear Dr Ken,
    I so appreciate the helpful advice you’re giving us all on this website!!
    My situation is a little unique because I am a 37 year old woman diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis when I was 25. So I have had sacroillitis for some 13 years and coped. Unfortunately during my second pregnancy in April last year I prolapsed my l4l5 disc and a little on l3l4. Since then I have not been the same as I juggle the pain from SI joints and the new disc problem. My most annoying symptom is the burning down my legs to my ankles and feet. I do take naprosyn and am trying everything I can to exercise my core- some exercises like the ones you’ve recommended. However, the burning keeps coming back. I consulted a neurosurgeon and he said that the burning is likely to be due to the leaking of the disc and it’s unknown as to when this will stop leaking etc. I can’t help but wonder if I’d be a candidate for a prosthetic disc replacement? Im not sure what my question is for you but would you have any tips on what might help this burning feeling go away? I even bought a cross-trainer to see if this will cause less jarring in the disc – I used to walk everyday to prevent sacroilliiac pain but now my disc doesn’t always like the walking ….. I could talk to you for ages sorry !! I hope there will be a cure for my disease one day 🙂 thank you Dr Ken.

  • Lindsay says:
    April 12, 2015 at 4:20 am

    Hi Dr. Ken,

    I have begun these exercises as you suggested on your sciatica page. Thank you! What I’m unsure of is, based on my MRI should I be doing cobra/sphinx, or do I not qualify for those? I’m confused whether I’m an extension or flexion responder since I have buldging discs but also flavum hypertrophy. Or if, perhaps, someone in their 20s can be both a flexion and extension responder? Your website is so helpful, thank you very much.
    1. Slight retrolisthesis of L4 on S1 by 3mm
    2. Posterior disc buldge at L3-L4 and L4-S1 without central canal stenosis
    3. Facet and ligamentum flavum hypertrophy with mild narrowing of neural foramina at L3-4 and L4-S1

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      April 13, 2015 at 7:59 am

      Thanks for your question. Base on the information you have given me you are likely to be an extension responder but really only an examination can tell. What you expect on history can be the opposite on exam.
      This means you should do the cobra. Remember I haven’t examined you, also any exercises can make your worse. If the pain get worse or especially if any symptoms go further down the leg you should stop your exercises.

      Hope that helps your disc herniation.

  • Guille says:
    March 15, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Thanks for your reply. I had started with your DDD exercises. Do you suggest I do the disc herniation ones instead? Or both? Thanks!

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      March 16, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Thanks for your question Guille. Just do the herniated disc exercises. That’s all. While you might have DDD. An MRI is not very good a good a correlating with pain. Many times people have disc herniations with no pain but sometimes they can disc herniations that don’t show up. For example most people with disc herniations are in pain after they sit for prolonged periods. This is because there is more pressure on the disc when they sit compared to when they lie down. You lie down to get an MRI of your lower back. This is why you can have a disc herniation and not have it show up on MRI.

      So in summary just do the disc herniation exercises for now.

  • Guille says:
    March 14, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    Hello, first of all, thanks for such a great blog with such useful information. I have spent many hours reading through your articles, exercises, and your thorough answers to people’s comments and already have learned a lot.

    I am a 43 yr old male and I have suffered from a few episodes of severe back pain for the last 15 years, and have managed to get through all episodes with P.T.
    THIS particular episode/crisis however has been a little different. Two months of physical therapy has made no difference, and the pain itself is also a little different. It is concentrated all around the hip and the waistline, as well as the lower back. There is no pain radiating down the legs. The pain can be described as dull but persistent and it really wears you down. I cannot bend forward or jump/hop/jog. Sitting makes it worse. Walking a mile a day seems to make things a little better for me.
    One strange aspect of this, is that I could have one very good day, two moderate pain days, and one crisis day. It’s just a cycle with no pattern whatsoever to it, and consider my level of activity/driving has been almost zero.
    My MRI and symptom-based diagnosis from two different TOP doctors has been DDD at L5-S1.
    I have become almost nonfunctional over the past eight weeks now, and I’m pretty desperate to find a way out of this without surgery. Any advice is highly appreciated.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      March 15, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Thanks for your question Guille. First therapists should change the treatment after a period of time. Hopefully a few different therapies have already been tried.

      While you could have a more stubborn case of DDD I doubt it. Almost all DDD co-exists with disc herniations given enough time.

      You should try these exercises.
      If the exercises give you increased pain or any symptom further down like into buttock or thigh then you should stop.

      Hope that helps your disc herniation.

  • mandeep singh says:
    February 8, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Respected sir,im affected with disc buldging at l4-l5, MRI result shows 6mm*7mm canal dimentions at l4-l5 and 9mm*12mm at l5-s1. I have no pain but i feel numbness and weakness in both legs.according to my dr s advice i m on bed rest for last one month and took medicines .my walking style is not good due to this problem.if i try to walk for more than 100mtr i feel something hard in my right leg muscle below the knee. Sir plz help me which kind of exercize is suitable for me..

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      February 8, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Thanks for your question Mandeep. Sounds like you have a lot of pressure on the nerves at L45 and L5S1. Bed rest will make you worse as the disc will get bigger for up to 72 hours. When you go to stand or sit there will be even more pressure than if you get up from a sleep. This will make your leg feel even worse as there is even more pressure from the disc pushing on the nerve.

      I am going to tell you the truth as I know it. All the evidence including many, many research papers, shows that bed rest is more harmful except in the most exceptional circumstances. I seriously doubt that you would be one of those cases based on what you are. Even if you were 2-3 days maximum. There is only more harm than good from such extended bed rest. This has been proven beyond a doubt for a very long time.

      Then try these exercises.

      If the exercises give you increased pain or increase symptoms further down the leg than you should stop.

      Hope that helps your disc bugle.

  • Tom says:
    November 12, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Hello Dr. Ken,

    Thank you in advance for your time.
    I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease on L5 S1 disc. Besides the low back pain I also have a pain shooting down my right leg. I’ve attached an MRI scan.
    It would be very appreciated if you could take a look, tell me your opinion and maybe recommend some exercises.
    Is it possible that i will ever be able to go back to weightlifting again?

    Thank you Doc, and looking forward hearing from you.

    Have a great day!

  • Jean says:
    October 25, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Hi Doc Nakamura,
    First of all i am glad that you made your website and of helpful to us.
    I have herniated disc ( DDD) (slipped disc radiculopathy), L4-L5, S1 (shown on my MRI).Diagnosed only last July,but severe pain started last June. For the past 3 months of continuous therapy, exercises ( williams flexon) and taking 4 kinds of medicines/pain reliever,i was releived and my lower back pain little by little decreases the pain. Thereafter, i felt something painful on my butt and if prolonged sitting and lying it starts to get mild numbness and sometimes goes down my legs. I was alarmed and scared that i might be paralyzed due to this numbness. Running 4 months of treatment and i was told that if pain is prolonged for 6months, i am candidate for operation or other option is epidural injection. Im scared coz what if operation is not successfull,chances are i will still be oaralyzed?if i get epidural,how long is the effect against pain?.
    So now im researching options on my case i.e.exercise. Is my case connected with neurologist/neurosurgeon to assess the nerve that is being pressed on my spine?.im getting frustated now.

    Thanks Doc for spending time reading my letter.hope to get feedback from you.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      October 26, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Thanks for your question Jean. Sounds like you have a disc herniation at L4 L5. An epidural injection can be helpful. Sometimes it is temporary for 2-3 weeks and other times it is helpful enough for the exercises to work. I think if you are getting better with exercises it is hopeful.

      If you are currently getting pain that is intermittent down the legs than surgery is not likely unless your neurological symptoms are getting worse like drop foot, losing your reflexes, weakness that keeps getting worse. Also if you have bowel or bladder problems and also your disc is sticking out more than 8mm. Than you would be a candidate for surgery. Having pain for more than 6 months alone is not a good criteria for surgery.

      Hope that helps your slipped disc.

  • Sonal says:
    October 11, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Hello Doctor,
    Met with car accident in Sep2014, orthopedic whiplash injury with following MRI findings:
    1. Minimal posterior disc bulge at C3-4, C4-5, C6-7 levels indenting thecal sac without causing significant spinal canal or neural foraminal compromise.
    2. Minimal posterior disc bulge at L4-5 level indenting thecal sac without significant spinal canal comprise. The bulging discs are marginally encroaching into the right neural foramina.
    Have been doing physiotherapy (traction, ift and swd with cervical & lumbar exercises) but still get occasional muscle spasms, pain and burning sensation in back.
    Does this whiplash injury ever get cured, your advice and valuable inputs would be greatly appreciated.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      October 12, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Thanks for your questions Sonal. Sorry to hear about your accident. Just so you have perspective I used to work in an MVA clinic which is a clinic that specializes in motor vehicle accidents. Most people with significant injuries take many months & some take years to get better. Most people are left with some residual symptoms such as tightness, headaches and pain.

      Cured? No, many people get out of pain after 6-12 months of therapy but each case is different. Just depends on how bad the accident was, your health before the accident, your age, and how seriously you were injured to name just a few. I would say you were seriously injured but not catastrophically (this is a accident designation).

      If you are only getting occasional muscle spasms with pain and burning in the back you are doing well. It has only been a month.

      Hope you get better soon.

    October 3, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Many thanks Dr Ken for your detailed explanation. Your website and blog is simply amazing; it gives a lot of education to back problems sufferers; education as you and I believe is the key. If my doctor and I understand my problem correctly, we both can find an optimal solution which in my opinion would definitely work.
    I have pain in my back (which is not very pronounced) but i have some numbness which travels down into my left leg and lateral side of the foot: i believe that my nerve L4-L5 and L5-S1 are under pressure causing this pain/numbness. I can not sit or walk for very long, which means that i have posture issues as well.
    Now kindly advise which of these exercises should work. What other treatment option do you recommend apart from the exercise regimens.


    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      October 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks for your question Tahir. I find it really nice that you appreciate the work that I put into the site. I would do some self massage on the left leg where you feel the pain. Push in hard and hold and work the whole muscle from the top the bottom. Otherwise keep doing the other exercises.

      Hope that helps your disc herniation.

    October 2, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    when some one have a herniated DISC, it can herniate in two directions inward and outward. only outward herniation causes the nerve pressing –
    Q1; this is a mechanical system and as an engineer i can see that with these recommended exercises, what we are trying to do is to push the the disc back into its cave, by increasing space between the vertibras for which the cow, bridge, pelvic tilt may help- how long these exercises should be done to get some positive results.All these postures can also bulge the disc more and hence more disc herniation? Why then touching toes or forward bend is not recommended as it also opens more space in the verbetras
    this is more like a mechanical system. So we we don’t know which of them are safe and which one not safe to do?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      October 2, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks for your question Tahir. Your question is more theoretical than for your pain I am assuming as you don’t talk at all about any pain you have.

      These exercises are recommended for a posterior (backwards toward the spinal cord or nerve) disc herniation which is the most common. If a person has a different type of disc herniation it will not work.

      The exercises actually push the vertebra closer together at the back like pinching the a doughnut at the back (if there was a back) this would push the jelly in the doughnut forward. By pinching or closing down the space between the vertebrae only on one side pushes the nucleus part of the disc back into place.

      So the exercises are not meant to increase the space between the vertebrae, they are meant to push the disc back.

      If the disc herniation is too large than the pinching will make the disc herniation worse. For most mild to moderate disc herniations the herniations go back into place. For large herniations the herniation will get larger.

      If you have a anterior (forward disc herniation) than toe touches are recommended. Anterior disc herniations are relatively rare though.

      So for most people the exercises in this article are safe unless you have a relatively rare anterior disc herniation. Even than most people will simply be aggravated on not try it any more which is what I always recommend. ie. If you get sharp pain or increasing pain while doing the exercises or pain for more than 1/2 hour you should stop the exercises. You should always consult your chiropractor or physiotherapist before doing the exercises.

      Furthermore I don’t recommend pelvic tilt and for the bridge that is a stability exercise and not designed to push the disc back into place. The cat cow is still simply get the area moving to increase mobility which often helps take a little bit of pressure off. The exercises that do what I talk about above ie, get the disc back into place are the prone position, sphinx and cobra.

      Hope that clarifies things.

  • Kevin Cecchini says:
    September 24, 2014 at 7:02 am


    I have a degenerated disk. I regularly see a chiropractor. My chiropractor has, aside from traditional methods, the proadjuster. He has helped me alot. I also regularly exercise, not as of late, due to work and college, I also am a 14 year bricklayer, that is, commercial bricklayer, so we pick up between 2-4 tons a day. I am now in restoration work, which is a little easier on the body.

    What can I do to help aid my pain of degenerated disk pain? I hang upside down,m stretch, exercise, as mentioned earlier, time keeps me from a longer routine. I perform many core exercises and stretching.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      September 25, 2014 at 10:31 pm

      Thanks for the question Kevin. Glad you are in a new line of work. That bending and twisting really doesn’t help with the degenerated disc or degenerative disc disease. I would add in the exercises in this article to help stabilize your spine. Also like you said handing upside down helps but an inversion table may help even more as you can more.

      As for the time you spend unfortunately you have to spend the time to keep a bad back from getting worse. That’s how prevent if from getting bad and needing treatment.

      Also this is article will keep your spine in good shape by preventing you from aggravating your problem in everyday life.

      Hope that helps your degenerative disc disease.

  • ahmed says:
    September 1, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Hello Sir. I am 32 year old ,my MRI result shows 1)Diffuse disc bulge at L4-L5,L5-S1 causing indentation on thecal sac bilateral moderate to severe lateral recess narrow impinging on exiting and traversing nerve roots. 2) Diffuse disc bulge at L3-L4 causing indentation on thecal sac bilateral mild lateral recess narrowing Complications.
    Please advise me on above MRI report for further treatment.

  • jayesh h kamlia says:
    August 22, 2014 at 2:41 am

    A lot of thanks to Dr.ken nakamura.your all suggested cure and exercise very usefully us. And I wish to Dr ken – god bless you.thanks.sir my English language is dull so pl adgust for if any mistake.Thanks………mr jayesh kamlia rajkot.36002 9427254337

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      September 2, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Thanks for your comment Jayesh. You are very welcome and I am very happy that the article is helping your degenerative disc disease.

  • john says:
    August 21, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    hope you can help me iam trying to find the best excises for compressed discs in the lower back thank you john

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      September 2, 2014 at 10:36 am

      Thanks for the question John. Why don’t you try the exercises I have listed at the bottom of the article. If you mean degnerative disc disease or osteoarthritis or dissicated disc or compressed disc you’ve come to the right place.

      Hope that helps your compressed disc.

  • gangadhar says:
    August 2, 2014 at 9:36 am

    respected sir, one time i lifted heavy weight of 100kgs….from that time whenever i bend forward there is pain in my buttocks……….then consult a doctor…he suggested for mri….in mri it found that there is posterior central disc protution at l5 s1………….i think it was DDD…it was right or not……please tell me sir…..can i do the above exercises…is it good for me…..becoz when i sit in the chair my both legs become numbness…wat it mean…is there any wrong with me…………please help me sir……………………………..

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